Over 8 million people fly every day and the experience onboard is fundamental for the success of airlines. Providing a great flying experience not only encourages repeat business but also leads to positive recommendations. With 41% of travelers watching movies during the flight, In-flight entertainment (IFE) systems are a must-have for airlines, it can significantly enhance the flying experience and provide several benefits.

Choosing the right IFE solution is an important decision, as it can affect customers satisfaction, loyalty, and ultimately the turnover of the company. In today’s market, there are three distinct types of IFE solutions: Seatback, Wireless, and Mobile.

41% of travelers are watching movies during the flight

Seatback IFE systems are seamlessly integrated into the seatbacks of the aircraft. With individual screens mounted on each seat, they offer a wide range of features and can be controlled using a built-in touch screen or a handheld controller.

Wireless IFE solutions, on the other hand, leverage wireless technology to deliver entertainment content directly to passengers’ personal devices. By using the aircraft’s wireless network, passengers can connect to an onboard server and access a variety of entertainment options through dedicated apps or web portals.

Mobile IFE allows passengers to access entertainment content before, during, and after the flight on their own devices. They simply download a dedicated app. Whether connected to onboard Wi-Fi or offline, passengers can enjoy a variety of content.

Each of these IFE solutions has its own unique benefits, catering to the diverse preferences and needs of passengers. Here are some factors to consider when choosing the right IFE solution for your company:

Mobile IFE is a more suitable solution for enhancing brand loyalty as it accompanies travelers throughout their entire journey, before, during, and after the flight.

Regarding the budget. Traditional seat-back IFE can be expensive to install and maintain. The price of seat-back IFE installation can vary widely depending on a number of factors, such as the size of the aircraft, the number of seats, and the complexity of the installation. The cost of seat-back IFE can range from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars per aircraft and there are ongoing maintenance costs to consider. Mobile and wireless options can be a good alternative. With less infrastructure to set up, these solutions are more affordable and innovative. 

Passenger experience depends on passenger demographics. Older passengers, who are not always comfortable with new technologies and may not have the latest smart and connected devices may prefer seatback IFE. On the other side, younger passengers are more likely to use their own electronic devices to enjoy inflight entertainment content. Indeed, according to SITA Passenger IT trends, it was revealed that 65% of customers are already streaming content on their own devices.

Younger passengers are also expecting innovation onboard, such as connectivity. In Inmarsat’s Inflight Connectivity Passenger Survey, 66% of respondents who believed Wi-Fi was fundamental to daily life, said inflight connectivity was a necessity. Today, ⅓ of commercial aircraft worldwide are connectivity ready.

Passengers expect a wide range of content options, from movies and TV shows to music, games, and e-books. As they are accustomed to advanced streaming platforms, passengers are also expecting quality and tailored content. It is therefore important to find a partner able to adapt the content catalog according to the passengers’ culture, interests, etc. 

In order to reward passenger loyalty, airlines need to be able to collect data information. IoT-enabled IFE systems can help airlines gather real-time data about passengers’ preferences, behaviors, and usage patterns, which can be used to improve the overall passenger experience and make data-driven decisions.

Another important factor to consider when selecting an IFE solution is the existing aircraft fleet systems or architecture. A seamless integration can improve the overall passenger experience and reduce the workload for the crew. Narrow-body aircraft, used on short to medium distances, have limited space for IFE systems, requiring the selection of smaller and lighter solutions that can be installed in the overhead bins. On the other hand, wide-body aircraft offer more space to accommodate larger and heavier seatback systems.

Investing in IFE systems has become fundamental for airlines and provides many benefits, from attracting and retaining customers to generating additional revenue streams. Choosing the right IFE solution requires careful consideration of a variety of factors and goals such as improving brand loyalty, reducing costs, enhancing the passenger experience, rewarding loyal passengers, etc.
By selecting the right IFE solution, airlines can differentiate themselves from competitors, increase customer loyalty, and generate additional revenue streams.